There are very clear, serious and daunting reasons why we should worry about the prospect of a Trump presidency in the United States. With him effectively grabbing the Republican nomination for president, these fears become more real and pronounced.
One of the greatest accomplishments of American democracy was its rules and decorum. Most serious contenders for the presidency and just about everyone to ever achieve it followed a standard of collegiality and a general view of governance that, while stretched from the democratic socialism of Franklin Delano Roosevelt or the free market economics of Ronald Reagan, rarely wavered. The worst break from decorum was Nixon’s Watergate scandal, in which the president was implicated in a breakin at a hotel in order to retrieve information from an opposing candidate’s campaign.
Trump provides a bizarre break from normalcy and his ascent to the Republican nomination has only reinforced how strange his success really is. George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and Jeb Bush, who usually would issue an endorsement of the Republican nominee as a mere formality, have refrained from any presence in the 2016 campaign. Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney refused to endorse him, after savagely criticizing him during the campaign. Ted Cruz, one of Trump’s opponents during the campaign, said towards the end what he “really thinks” of Trump – that he was a “narcissist at a level I think this country has never seen.”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has also refrained from endorsing him, saying he is “not there” yet. Lindsay Graham has stated he plans not to vote for either of the two major party’s candidates, wittily alluding to Trump’s disgusting Twitter post of him eating a taco bowl while exclaiming “I love Hispanics!” by saying, “Eating a taco is probably not going to solve the problems we have with Hispanics” and adding that “I cannot in good conscience support Donald Trump.” Former Bush chief of staff Andy Card has said “Trump scares me.”
Is Donald Trump a national security threat?
The rationale for the Republican Trump boycott has ranged from his racism to his xenophobia and ability to include coalitions of voters in the Republican party. For one Democrat, however, an even more troubling possibility came from Trump’s presence simply as a candidate, let alone a president. California congressman Adam Schiff questioned publicly whether any sort of intelligence documents should be shared with Donald Trump, a common practice with candidates who have made it to the front of a major American political party.
The practice of providing intelligence briefings to the presidential nominees of both parties is a sound one. Whether it is premature in the case of Donald Trump is one question; whether it would do any good is another.
Schiff noted Donald Trump’s expressed fondness for Vladimir Putin, alluding to the possibility that if Trump doesn’t share classified information publicly as a result of his lack of self control, he could share it with the Russian president, who, whatever “the Donald” may think, has interests very removed from American security. Such a worry fuels speculation about what Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin would be like if he became president.
The political lobbying group Vote Vets has circulated a meme on Facebook reasserting this troubling possibility, relaying a quote by an anonymous senior American intelligence official: “My concern with Trump will be that he inadvertently leaks (classified info), because as he speaks extemporaneously, he’ll pull something out of his hat that he heard in a briefing and say it.”
Trump’s ascendance represents the next stage of the possible rise of the Alternative Right. The Alternative Right is an umbrella term for extreme right wing white nationalist groups, which coalesce largely without white hoods or swastikas but instead in sportscoats and hipster garb, laced with racism.
Among these are figures like Augustus Invictus, a perennial Libertarian senate candidate in Florida, and Richard Spencer, an editor for Taki’s Mag. The alt right may not outwardly look like the Klan or Nazis of old, but all the elements are there — the anti-Semitism, the embrace of paganism, the iconography and militancy, and the hate. Groups in the Alternative Right have regularly popped up on Donald Trump’s Twitter feed. He is well aware of and encourages them, whatever he may say when asked about it.
A sort of underlying black/white tension is recurring in the United States (just as a tension with the Middle East is constant in Europe) and the country has seen plenty of racist political figures including Theodore Bilbo, George Wallace and Barry Goldwater. Trump is a whole different animal — his candidacy flirts with open authoritarianism and he regularly confronts and bullies the sort of figures who stand in the way of that authoritarianism, from journalists like Jorge Ramos and Megyn Kelly to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, all while cultivating the lowest common denominator voter who would be giddy and ill informed enough to go with the sort of despotic regime the United States avoided becoming even as the rest of the world tried it out. Most of Trump’s ignorant supporters probably never even heard of all that history, and think Trump is selling something new.
The world is no game. The reality is that most people respect power. You can see this disturbing reality in everything from people’s sexual to economic behaviors. The American people are a people frustrated and afraid of losing power both on a global stage and within their own personal lives. Many of them are incredibly ignorant about the world they are scared of, and willing to listen to whoever simplifies it for them, something an intelligent man like Barack Obama couldn’t. That fear can lead them to someone like Trump. He has made it this far — the disaster that his presidency would be is very, very real and very serious. The risks must be seen as real possibilities.
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